UVA pediatric surgeon trying to bring fresh food to patients and their families in need

UVA pediatric surgeon trying to bring fresh food to patients and their families in need

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Food insecurity is rising in Charlottesville and that’s why one doctor at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital is trying to make sure his patients have fresh food at all times.

“During the pandemic, so many people are hurting financially and unable to afford healthy food,” Dr. Jeff Gander, a pediatric surgeon at UVA Children’s Hospital, said.

Access to fresh foods can make a huge difference for children with chronic health conditions.

“There are many children as well as their family members who have chronic health conditions some of which are obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes and we noticed some of the causes of that seem to be lack of access to fresh healthy foods,” Dr. Gander said.

That’s why Dr. Gander is trying to raise money to help put fresh food on the table for patients with the Fresh Farmacy Program through the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville.

“We have historically partnered with low income health clinics and have provided a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to patients that are at risk for certain diet related illnesses,” director of community and policy at the Local Food Hub, Laura Brown said.

For six years, the Local Food Hub has helped provide fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need. In order to bring the program to UVA Children’s Hospital, money needs to be raised first.

“It’s one thing to tell someone your health would benefit from more fruits and vegetables, but if that person lacks the access or the knowledge then it’s going to be really challenging,” Brown said.

So far, Dr. Gander has raised $2,000 but is hoping to raise $10,000 to begin the program. He’s trying to bring fresh food to 10 to 15 families at UVA Children’s Hospital and then reach more people down the road.

“We feel that timing of this is critical. Given that we’re going into the cold winter months, and patients may not have access to healthy food and it may be difficult for transportation, so I think around the holidays now is a critical time to help as many people as we can,” Dr. Gander said.

If you’re interested in helping raise money for patients and their families at UVA Children’s Hospital, you can donate directly on their fundraising page.

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